Principals upset over pay proposal; Administrators seek same percent raise in budget as teachers; 'Disappointed'; Union says it feels betrayed by Owens; board is sympathetic


Claiming that they have been betrayed by Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens, school principals and other administrators say they want the same percentage raise that teachers would receive in her proposed budget for fiscal 2001.

The head of the union representing 255 school administrators told the school board and Superintendent Carol S. Parham yesterday that he expects their full support in trying to obtain equivalent raises for his members.

"We're disappointed and upset, and I've got 250 people who feel abandoned," said Richard Kovelant, executive director and general counsel for the Association of Educational Leaders (AEL).

"We're the front-line commanders of these schools, running multimillion-dollar facilities," Kovelant said. "My people are shocked and feel betrayed."

Board President Paul Rudolph told Kovelant that board members were aware of the issue.

"The concerns you have raised, we have already taken very much to heart," he said.

Owens' $1 billion-plus spending plan, presented to the County Council on Monday, would give teachers a 5 percent raise that includes a 1 percent contribution from the state. AEL members, and most other county employees, would receive a 2 percent raise.

The school board's budget, sent to Owens in February, would have given 3 percent raises to all school employees. The 4 percent teacher raise proposed by the county executive allows the county to take advantage of a 1 percent match from the state.

The state incentive -- available for two years -- creates an opportunity for local school systems to boost teacher pay in an attempt to deal with a major teacher shortage.

Owens' budget would raise starting teacher salaries to about $32,000 a year and includes a signing bonus for teachers in hard-to-fill areas and teacher mentors to work with new teachers.

"This school system can't run solely by having teachers in the classroom," said Kovelant.

In some cases, he said, teachers were making more than administrators who supervise them. Salaries of AEL members range from about $54,000 to $80,000, depending on school size and experience.

Kovelant challenged Parham and board members to support the AEL's position at budget hearings before the County Council, which is reviewing Owens' budget.

"We want to count on you to raise hell, because if you don't, we'll find another place to raise hell," he said.

At yesterday's board meeting, Kovelant was accompanied by Charles Jansky, AEL president and principal of Riviera Beach Elementary School; Rocco Ferretti, an AEL executive board member and principal of Bodkin Elementary School; Richard Wiles, the county's coordinator for physical education; Leigh Reid, AEL second vice president and a personnel specialist; and Dan Smith, an AEL administrator.

Susie Jablinske, president of the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County, said that while she was pleased with Owens' commitment to education, the county's tax cap hampers Owens' ability to address other needs.

Jablinske noted that the county executive's spending plan did not include additional guidance counselors and middle school reading teachers that Parham and the school board requested.

"The revenue cap is like a millstone around her neck," she said.

In other business at yesterday's board meeting:

Ada Potter, a secretary at West Annapolis Elementary School, was named employee of the month.

Mattie Pracaccini, an English teacher at Old Mill High School, was named educator of the month.

Alexis Dorsey, a volunteer at Annapolis High School, was named volunteer of the month.

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